Some of the fine points of this continuing genius:
Annually, 20 to 50 metric tons of roxarsone in chicken litter is applied to fields on the Delmarva Peninsula, a region that includes parts of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.
The weight of evidence for arsenic as a carcinogen is much greater now than it was a decade ago.
Neither the Food & Drug Administration nor the Department of Agriculture has actually measured the level of arsenic in the poultry meat that most people consume. (No doubt operating under the theory that what you don't know can't hurt you; this matches the USDOE policy on mad cow disease screening tests.)
The obvious question is: "how did this arsenic feeding get started?" Back before the present US public health agencies (FDA and EPA) existed, arsenic acid, an inorganic product, was commonly sprayed on cotton fields at harvest time to make the cotton bolls brown, and bend back simultaneously, making it easy for one-pass machine harvesting. It's easy to imagine a farmer letting his chickens eat the arsenic soaked cotton seeds, later noticing the reduced parasitic infection rates. But who knows for certain who decided to feed arsenic compounds to chickens? A task for the Myth Busters.
The inorganic arsenic acid used on cotton was commonly made from a byproduct of copper smelting. As to how someone got started spraying that on cotton we can't imagine.
The important thing, now, is to take away the genius' lab coat.
A high five and Kudos to Macs and Tysons.
Image credit: Dr. Evil Genius Lab Coat, Hipster Gifts
Update: It is amazing how responsive North Americans and their governments' respective food regulating agencies have been in dealing with the melamine pet food contamination crisis that is still under investigation. Contrast this with a half century of looking the other way as arsenic is added to the human food chain. As the C&EN; article points out, arsenic accumulates preferentially in the arsenic-fed chickens' livers. Other viscera are not ruled out as arsenic "partioning" sites, as comprehensive studies have not been undertaken. If you've gotten this far with the post, you may be intrigued enough to pursue a question that relates to our update. Who knows what happens to chicken viscera (liver included)?